Ilya Kovalchuk Leads the Charge as Montreal Dominates Philadelphia

After coming off wins against the top three teams in the NHL, the Flyers were in a prime spot to pick up a season sweep of the Montreal Canadiens. Scott Laughton stepped onto the ice to play in his 300th career NHL game, and was sure to come out with a ton of energy.

Montreal’s recently acquired Ilya Kovalchuk had something to say about it all, however. The Canadiens practically dominated the entire game, and the Flyers hit the snooze button is what seemed to be an easy two points.

First period

This game started out slow. Both sides looked slow, but Montreal was getting more shots. In fact, it almost looked like their game plan was to shoot anywhere on Alex Lyon, who was playing in his first NHL game this season.

Nicolas Aubé-Kubel broke the seal and made something happen with 14:49 left in the first. But it was not the most imaginable tempo change, as he tripped up Victor Mete. Philadelphia managed to kill this one off, generating more chances than Montreal while being a man down.

Alex Lyon played stellar in the first session. He stoned Kovalchuk on a great back door feed, and saved all nine of the shots he faced in the first ten minutes. The Flyers defense was not giving him much help, but Lyon stood on his head.

Joel Farabee scored his first goal since December 3rd to break the scoring open. He made a nice move in the slot, lost the puck, managed to get it back, and went five-hole on Carey Price. After the game, he noted that the goal “felt good, but at the end of the day, didn’t really mean much.”

The reason why it was a, for lack of better term, pointless goal was because the Canadiens quickly answered. On the ensuing face-off, Tomas Tatar scored after a great pass from Danault five seconds after Farabee’s goal. It was a very similar goal that the Flyers allowed to the Blues the night prior.

The teams went into the second knotted at one goal a piece.

Second Period

Despite the Flyers swarming the net late into the first, their momentum failed to carry into the following period.

Kevin Hayes was called for an awful hooking call. And when I say awful, Hayes did not even make contact with Joel Armia’s glove. Ilya Kovalchuk would find twine for his first of two goals on the night on the powerplay.

The suffering did not stop here for Philadelphia. A mere 11 seconds later, Artturi Lehkonen redirected one up high on Lyon, moving the score to 3-1.

Former friend Dale Weise tripped up Ivan Provorov, and the Flyers went to work on their first powerplay. Despite some quality chances, Philadelphia failed to convert on any of their four powerplay attempts.

After Shea Weber just got his stick in the way of a potential Travis Konecny back door goal, the Flyers failed to get much offense together for the remainder of the period. Even on odd man rushes, the Flyers couldn’t get a shot off on Carey Price. They began to swarm again toward the end of the period, keeping Price on his toes, but couldn’t sneak anything by.

After two, Flyers trailed 3-1, but held a 31-24 shot advantage.

Third Period

The third period wound up being almost as slow as the first period.

Shots were aplenty for both teams, but not much was happening. This was until Robert Hagg laid a clean hit on Ryan Poehling and 19 year old Kotkaniemi came to his teammate’s defense. Kotkaniemi picked up an instigator call and a 10 minute misconduct as well.

Ilya Kovalchuk would up finding the back of the net again, giving him his second goal of the night with eight minutes remaining. At this point, it was goodnight, Philadelphia.

The Flyers managed to hit Carey Price with 41 shots, but he had an answer for 40 of them. Montreal snuck four past Lyon, who saved 36 shots of his own.

Difference Makers

Going into the game, I named Ilya Kovalchuk the player to watch. He came into Thursday night having five goals in his six games as a Canadien. In his career, he had a point-per-game average, having 51 points in 51 games against Philly.

That trend continued for Kovy, as he notched two goals in Philly. However, an even bigger difference maker was Carey Price.

Price saved 40 of the shots Philadelphia threw at him. He made some insane back door and sprawling saves to keep the Habs in the game. Just because the veteran was doing what he does best, this does not discount what Alex Lyon did.

Lyon saved 36 shots on goal, but was consistently left out to dry by the guys in front of him. Lyon stood his ground, especially for playing in his first NHL game this season. The Habs simply outplayed the lethargic Flyers, who were on the latter half of a back to back.

Up next

The Flyers seek revenge against the Los Angeles Kings Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center. Make sure to follow my colleague, @EricReesePSN, on Twitter for live game updates from the press box.

Coverage will begin at 6:30 PM with puck drop slated for 7 PM on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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